Maryland fans received some rare good news out of the basketball program Wednesday, with W-USA 9 reporting rising junior forward Charles Mitchell's decision to stay with the program. Mitchell had long been rumored as a potential transfer, which would have made five departures from the program this offseason. Instead, the Georgia native will stick around, providing some much-needed depth in the front court as Maryland moves into a new conference with new challenges.
But what does Mitchell actually provide for the Terps? Let's look at what he's done in his time in College Park as well as the roster Maryland will have around him to see exactly how big (or B1G) this news is.
What does Mitchell provide?
Namely, offensive rebounding. Mitchell has ranked among the top 15 of all players nationally in offensive rebounding percentage in each of his two seasons with Maryland. Mitchell's offensive rebounding percentages over the past two seasons clocked in at 15.4% and 15.6%, respectively, meaning he brings in a rebound on approximately one of every six missed Maryland shots while he is on the floor.
Mitchell's a fine defensive rebounder as well, ranking in the top 100 in each of the past two seasons with a defensive rebounding percentage above 20%. This past season, he posted a DR% of 22.8, meaning he rebounded nearly a quarter of opponents' missed shots while he was on the floor. That number placed him 82nd nationally.
Looking at 2014-15
With all that rebounding comes some offensive production, of course. Mitchell has only averaged 6.5 and 5.5 points, respectively, in his two seasons with the Terps, but that high offensive rebound percentage has led to second-chance opportunities near the rim. Of Mitchell's 180 field goal attempts last season, 62.2% came at the rim (higher than every Maryland player not named Jonathan Graham or Damonte Dodd), and he made 64.3% of those shots (higher than every Maryland player not named Shaquille Cleare).
Mitchell really struggled at the free throw line last season, making just 32.9% of his 70 attempts. That's down from 54% the year before, so it's safe to say bad luck probably played a factor, predicting a rise to a more acceptable level for his junior year.
The bigger issue long-term is his defense -- Mitchell is listed at 6'8" but is closer to 6'4" or 6'5", and ends up giving away a lot of fouls (5.7 per 40 minutes) in size mismatches. He's the height of a shooting guard or wing player but plays like a center, and is truly an enigma in today's college game. That's a combination that should not work by any sort of logic, but he brings a unique kind of energy to the boards and is an asset to the team.
How does he fit in with the Terps' other big men?
Scouting the new guys
It's hard to know exactly what roles Michal Cekovsky and Trayvon Reed will play at Maryland, as we haven't even seen them play yet, and even Damonte Dodd is a question mark after limited usage in his true freshman season. Evan Smotrycz received plenty of playing time last season, however, so we do have some idea of what Maryland's frontcourt situation will look like.
Dodd, Reed and Cekovsky all have one thing in common -- they will provide much-needed length, something that Maryland struggled with after the departure of Alex Len (see the loss against Oregon State). Cekovksy is further along offensively than Dodd was last season, but we hear the rising sophomore started to make serious strides in practice towards the end of last season. Cekovsky has spot-up shooting ability as well, especially from mid-range, while Reed may also be an offensive question mark but is an accomplished outlet passer who should be able to get the ball to Maryland's bevy of shooters.
Smotrycz is a completely different kind of player, primarily functioning as a three-point shooter who can also come inside and grab some rebounds. While height goes a (very) long way with rebounding, Maryland's length comes entirely from players who have little to no experience at the collegiate level. They'll likely need some fine-tuning on their technique, and having Mitchell as an upperclassman on the inside will go a long way towards keeping the Terps dominant on the boards.
Will he compete for a starting job?
Yes, but he's likely on the outside looking in. He almost definitely won't start at center due to his height issues -- Dodd and Cekovsky are the two favorites there -- but he'll be in competition with Smotrycz for the starting power forward spot. The coaches showed an affinity for starting Smotrycz throughout the season last year, so he's likely the favorite, but anything can happen from now until the season starts.
Regardless of whether or not he starts, Mitchell figures to play a big part in Maryland's rotation this upcoming season. He'll play major minutes, likely be near the top of the nation in offensive rebounding once again, and be an integral part of the Terps' offense.
What does this mean for the scholarship situation?
Not much. Maryland may have looked at adding a graduate transfer big man had Mitchell left, but now will still likely add just one graduate transfer guard, leaving them with one open scholarship for the season (which would likely go to Varun Ram).